Bharti Airtel, India’s largest integrated telecommunications services provider, and the world’s second largest MNO, has announced that it will partner with US chipmaker Qualcomm to deliver 5G services in India, having announced a multi-year agreement to deploy Nokia’s SRAN solution across nine of India’s 5G ‘circles’ last year.
Telecom regulators in India have divided the country into a ‘telecom map’, featuring 22 ‘circles’, and with India expected to reach 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025, which will also include 88 million 5G connections according to the GSMA, there are multiple contracts on the table when it comes to delivering 5G.
"Airtel has been a pioneer of new technologies and our networks are fully ready for 5G,” said Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer at Bharti Airtel. “We are delighted to have Qualcomm Technologies as a key technology provider in our journey to roll-out world-class 5G in India. With Airtel's integrated service portfolio and Qualcomm Technologies' 5G leadership, we will be well placed to usher India into the next era of hyper-fast and ultra-low latency digital connectivity.”
India's first live commercial 5G network
Airtel recently became India's first network operator to demonstrate 5G over a live commercial network in Hyderabad, and the company hopes to use Qualcomm 5G radio access network (RAN) platforms to roll-out vRAN systems across the country.
"In addition, Airtel and Qualcomm Technologies will collaborate to enable a wide array of use cases, including 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) that is designed to deliver broadband connectivity at Gigabit speeds to homes and businesses," Airtel added.
The RAN constitutes the bulk of the capital and operating costs for mobile network operators, and Airtel said the flexible and scalable architecture of Open RAN will create new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to become viable players in the deployment of 5G networks, enabling new 5G services, applications and multiple 5G use cases.